Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The History of Tabasco Sauce

Nothing remotely political here, but it's an interesting tale of a uniquely American food.

The story actually begins in the pre-Civil War era with a New Orleans plantation owner named Maunsel White, who was famous for the food served at his sumptuous dinner parties. Mr. White's table no doubt groaned with the region's varied fare--drawing inspiration from European, Caribbean and Cajun sources--but one of his favorite sauces was of his own devising, made from a pepper named for its origins in the Mexican state of Tabasco. White added the sauce to various dishes and bottled it for his guests.
"Although the McIlhennys have tried to dismiss the possibility," Mr. Rothfeder writes, "it seems clear now that in 1849, a full two decades before Edmund McIlhenny professed to discover the Tabasco pepper, White was already growing Tabasco chilies on his plantation." The author's evidence: a letter to the News Orleans Daily Delta newspaper attesting that the "Tobasco" is "a new species of red pepper, which Colonel White has introduced into this country." If nothing else, Mr. Rothfeder concludes, the McIlhenny sauce was inspired by White's recipe.

No comments: